What is an MPV (multi-purpose vehicle)?

  • We explain what an MPV is
  • Also known as a people-carrier
  • More info about this type of car

MPV is short for multi-purpose vehicle – a type of car generally favoured by families due to a more practical interior than a regular hatchback’s, often coming in five- and seven-seat forms.

Range of sizes

Smaller MPVs – sometimes based on superminis such as the Ford B-Max – come with five seats and a practical interior, while the Citroen C4 Picasso and Ford C-Max can also come in a seven-seat form (the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso and Ford Grand C-Max, for example).

Others, such as the Volkswagen Touran and SEAT Alhambra, are designed to be seven-seaters from the start, however. The latter of the two comes with practical sliding side doors and a huge interior.

Read about more motoring terms in our full glossary here

All MPVs major on practicality, with spacious boots and flexible interiors where the seats can be configured, folded, flipped and stowed, depending on how many passengers you’re carrying.

The MPV bodystyle has declined in popularity in recent years though, due to the growth in more fashionable SUVs offering similar levels of flexibility and practicality in a more desirable package.


Spacious, flexible interiors, smaller examples easy to use around town.


Larger examples difficult to manoeuvre, dull image compared with fashionable SUVs, rarely offer any off-roading capability unlike some SUVs. 


Ford B-Max, Renault Scenic (and Renault Grand Scenic), Ford Galaxy

Looking for more jargon-busting motoring meanings? Head over to our Parkers Car Glossary page and take a look at our other definitions